When I was growing up, my mom worked. She may have wanted to work but the reality was that she HAD to work. With a total of five children, both of my parents worked the entire time I was growing up.
In my youngest years, she was a hair dresser who worked her way up to owning her own shop. As the number of children increased, a relocation for a better job for my dad had her choose to be an in-home child care provider. After all, she had too many kids in child care to be able to work outside of the home. After all of the children were in school, she became an administrative assistant where she stayed until retirement.
My mom was proud of the work she did (as she should be) but there were definitely days where she wished she didn’t have to go to work. Don’t we all!
Now that I am no longer an 18-year-old who knows everything, I can admit that I learned many great things from my mom. For this post, however, I will focus on what I learned about being a working mom:
- If your day starts early, it should end early. My mom loved waking up before all the kids and getting things done. This meant she was asleep by 8:30 most nights, but she got her full nights sleep in most nights.
- You need to budget your money and stick to that budget. I spent many Sunday afternoon watching my mom take care of all the paperwork and pay bills – you know, back when you actually had to write a check for each one.
- We are all a team so we all need to pitch in to make our house work. Not only did I have weekly chores that had to be done before I could do anything on the weekend, I also had to wash my own clothes and take turns making an evening meal. As the oldest, I was also the primary babysitter. I didn’t get an allowance for this – it was just what was expected.
- If I wanted to be involved in sports or activities, I could be involved in as many as I wanted, as long as I committed to attending through the whole season AND figured out how to get myself back and forth to practices and home games.
- While I was the center of my mom’s universe, I was not the center of her universe. What I mean by this is that I never doubted her love for me (at least not for this reason), but I also can count on one hand the number of times she came to one of my sports or activities. It was about making choices and I had to decide which ones were important enough to me that I wanted her there.
- Whatever work you are assigned, you do it without complaint and you do it well. It was important to her that co-workers and supervisors could count on her to do amazing work, no matter the task. I would hear about some of these boring ones, but she would always say that they were just as important as the fun ones.
- Organize, organize, organize! Whether it was work or home, she believed in being efficient – no time wasted. There was a system or routine for many things in our house as well as at her work. I mentioned earlier that I did my own laundry growing up. She had a system set up so that all of us children knew what and how much to put in the washer. There was also an expectation that if you took laundry out of the dryer, you were to fold it – even if it wasn’t yours. With all of her systems, things ran fairly smoothly at work and home.
When I was a child and teen, I did not appreciate some of these as much as I could have. However, I see as an adult that they are priceless. I also now know as an adult that it was not nearly as easy as she made it look.
I can only hope my children learn just a portion of what my mom taught me.